UFL gives Utah's Johnson and others a chance

Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson
Quarterback Brian Johnson, Sugar Bowl MVP and all-around Utah hero didn't get drafted by an NFL team this past spring, but he is going to have the opportunity to play professional football.

Johnson, along with 21 other players from the non-automatic qualifying schools, was selected in the premiere draft for the United Football League (UFL), a new football league that begins play this fall.

Johnson was drafted by UFL New York (I don't think there's a team name yet). Other names you might recognize include, Colorado State's Cecil Sapp, TCU's Bo Schobel and Western Michigan's Branden Ledbetter.

According to the league's Web site, the UFL will operate out of four cities -- New York, Las Vegas, Orlando, and San Francisco -- but also will play games in Hartford, Los Angeles and Sacramento. The game will be almost identical to the NFL game and will play on Thursday and Friday evenings in the fall. The first regular season game is in October and the championship game is scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend.

While this might not sound like an ideal move for any young football player, it might be the perfect breeding ground for developing talent. Coaches in the league include Dennis Green, Jim Fassel, Jim Haslett, and Ted Cottrell. All have tons of NFL experience, making this a gateway to the league.

Here is a list of all the players from non-AQ schools who were drafted this past week:


DE Adrian Awasom (North Texas)
OG Jason Boone (Utah)
LB Ezra Butler (Nevada)
NT Gabe Long (Utah)
RB Tyson Thompson (San Jose State)
DB Nick Turnbull (FIU)


C Jasper Harvey (San Diego State)
QB Brian Johnson (Utah)
DB Terell Maze (San Diego State)
T Ray Norell (Buffalo)
WR Steve Sanders (Bowling Green)
RB Cecil Sapp (Colorado State)
NT Bryan Save (Colorado State)


DE Bo Schobel (TCU)


RB Femi Ayanbadejo (San Diego State)
WR Marcus Fitzgerald (Marshall)
TE Branden Ledbetter (Western Michigan)
LB Joe Martin (San Diego State)
T Brian Rimpf (East Carolina)
NT Jason Stewart (Fresno State)
DB Marviel Underwood (San Diego State)
WR Joe West (UTEP)